Parties Versus Cults

A recent essay in the Washington Post considered the inside baseball aspects of party platforms.

“Back in the day,” when politics was far more focused on policy, I participated in local efforts to craft platforms that reflected thoughtful policy positions; as the linked article notes, those days–and their “thoughtful discussions”– are long-gone. As the essay also noted, while candidates sometimes tried to distance themselves from unpopular planks, platforms mattered. They revealed which factions really held power, and testified to the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

That was then. Policy doesn’t matter when politics is all about a cult waging culture war.

Four years ago, having scaled back their convention because of covid-19, the Republicans who nominated Donald Trump to a second term didn’t bother to adopt a platform at all. Instead, the party decided to stick with its 2016 document and “continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

The last actual GOP platform contains all sorts of commitments that the the current crazies have abandoned.

That eight-year-old platform is a fossil of primordial, pre-MAGA conservatism — of a day when abortion rights seemed secure enough that posturing against them carried little political cost; when Republicans could agree that Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” needed to be defended against “a resurgent Russia.”

Written before our rogue Supreme Court overturned Roe, the platform pandered to single-issue anti-choice voters with a plank supporting a human life amendment to the Constitution that would make the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth. That’s going to be a bit awkward in a country where something like 70% of voters are pro-choice– and angry about the first-ever retraction of a constitutional right.

So maybe it is time for today’s Republicans to acknowledge the truth. They are no longer a party with any firm principles at all. Enduring and consistent values? Not for them.

Come to think of it, this whole exercise of writing a 2024 platform for the Republican Party could be pretty simple. Why bother with putting together another 60-page document when the truth about today’s GOP can be summed up in a single sentence?

“RESOLVED, That the Republican Party stands for whatever the hell Donald Trump says it does.”

Robert Hubbell recently reminded us just “what the hell” Trump has said lately.

Trump has promised to deny funds to any school that requires mandatory vaccines. Childhood vaccines against 16 diseases have saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the last century. Defunding schools that require vaccines will cause outbreaks of diseases that have been effectively eliminated. See HuffPo, Trump Makes Bizarre Threat About Schools And Vaccine Mandates.

Trump says that business leaders who do not support him should be fired. NBC News, Trump says business executives should be ‘fired for incompetence’ if they don’t support him.

Trump trashed Fox News for having the temerity to interview a guest—former Speaker Paul Ryan—who was critical of the former president. Trump said, “Nobody can ever trust Fox News, and I am one of them.” MSN, Trump Loses It At Fox News, Says No One Can Trust It.

Trump said that President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plans are “stunts” that will be “rebuked” if Trump is elected. See The Independent, Trump calls Biden’s student loan forgiveness a ‘vile’ publicity stunt.

Trump recently told the Danbury Institute that, if elected, “These are going to be your years because you’re going to make a comeback like just about no other group . . . And I’ll be with you side by side.” The Danbury Institute promotes fetal personhood, opposing abortion from “the moment of conception” (a position that would effectively ban IVF). See Missouri Independent, Trump says he’ll work ‘side by side’ with group that wants abortion ‘eradicated.

Granted, Trump says whatever he thinks a given audience wants to hear–his lack of any comprehensive policy commitment (or understanding of what policy is or how government operates) is one reason his initial term did less damage than it might otherwise have done. Should he win in November, he’ll have the far greater competence of Project 2025 authors to draw on.

David Sedaris said it best. Anyone who thinks there is any equivalence between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is like the airline passenger in his often-cited example:

The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

To vote for Donald Trump–or the Indiana GOP’s Christian Taliban–is to reject the chicken.


  1. “The last actual GOP platform contains all sorts of commitments that the the current crazies have abandoned.” I watched from inside Indianapolis City Government the beginning of the destruction of the Republican party locally under Steve Goldsmith; it was surprisingly easy for him to accomplish this. Based on lies and repeated till his “truths” became the voters goal to do away with old GOP party commitments.

    But every one of the current sitting GOP administration will vote for whichever candidate is a Republican; do they actually believe they can resurrect the actual GOP platform when they only have one choice and one platform before them? Reminds me of Hitler’s elections when he was the only candidate. All election news reports are Trump; what he is doing, saying and what his “platform”, which often changes depending on where he is speaking. is for OUR future. We have an active and actual president whose primary battle is within our own government, including those who can be considered the “crazies” of the Democratic party who base their decisions against him on one or two issues. Forgetting we are in a Cold Civil War within our own government and diplomatically on the global level. History shows us that President Lincoln fought the same battle to enact the 13th Amendment, hoping to Unite the United States again. President Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” should be our hope under current conditions; nationally and globally.

    “RESOLVED, That the Republican Party stands for whatever the hell Donald Trump says it does.” And that changes whenever or wherever he has another “genius” level thought to express. Think just his view of the location of his own, and owned, RNC will be held.

  2. I had a flashback to the “Goldsmith Days” in city government with a connection to Trump’s rule of the Republican party. The first order City employees got from Goldsmith, his 2nd or 3rd day in office, was to destroy all files and paperwork from the Hudnut administration; huge trash bins were rolled into all offices to accomplish this. They were frequently emptied and returned: I was unaware if anyone attempted to stop this action legally. We are being blocked in the federal justice system from taking action for Trump selecting historical, classified, military and foreign documents to be packed up and moved to his home. His defense being everything within the Executive Branch became his personal property when he was appointed president. Did he destroy selected documents and where else could more be stored? We will never know, either way, government documents were removed from their rightful government sites by both Goldsmith and Trump.

  3. The United States Constitution really IS in need of change – just not in the direction MAGA is leading us. Consider some of its problems.

    A candidate for president can have millions more votes than their opponent and still lose in the electoral college.
    Gerrymandering can lead to some total idiots in Congress.
    The Supreme Court needs a code of ethics and an upper age limit.
    The rules set out in the Constitution for amending it make it too difficult to change.

    This is just the start of the list. The writers of the Constitution knew it was going to need modifications and had no goal of getting everything perfect on the first try. It is not carved in stone.

    The Republicans have their 2025 Committee spelling out a comprehensive change in a truly frightening direction, but it must awaken Progressives to the need for doing the same thing, this time in the direction the Founders intended. It is not going to be easy.

  4. It seems we won’t be having an overpopulation problem, if Donny and his boys take power. Our maternal death rate will skyrocket, as will our infant death rate. It seems it’s really hard for a baby whose mother has died from sepsis to be a healthy bouncing anything. All this time I was worried about limited resources for a growing population. How silly of me!

    Think of all the things that we worry about now. Little things, like who should we vote for? What policies do we support? Should we have a two state solution in the Middle East? Those questions will already be decided for us. There will only be one name on any ballot. Policy will depend on how our leader feels when he gets out of bed each morning. We won’t need two states, as there won’t be any more Palestinians.

    All will be taken care of and we’ll have no worries at all, so long as we smile demurely whenever we encounter our great leader or his minions.

  5. I went back the other day and read my Covid journal. I recorded a lot of things, but one of the things it stands out most was the total disaster Trump made out of the entire Covid response. Looking back because of him, we had almost no testing. We had almost no masks. We had no consistent masking policy. It was almost 2 years after the pandemic started that the general public could even buy in 95 masks. My strongest observations were that the administration policy during the pandemic was to just make sure that the stock market kept flying high. I didn’t mentioned it in my journal because the news had already beat it into the ground, but Trump had eliminated all of the “unnecessary”bureaucracy that had been put in place during SARs scare to handle the pandemics almost 3 years before. My anger and frustration almost jump off the pages over the course of 60 entries and six months and most of it was about the terrible and inadequate government response, directed by Trump.

    With a new book out, I don’t understand why reruns of “The Apprentice” are not available to watch. For anybody that had ever seen an episode of that show they will instantly realize that they’re dealing with an egomaniacal psychopath. That was my evaluation from which you could see on the screen. From what I’ve heard, the new book about the show gives all the gory details about what went on inside.

    If the only moral values you hold are to win an election, and you’re desperate because your policies aren’t popular, then I can see why you would follow Trump so closely.

  6. Joanne, I think I started my turn from claiming to be a Republican toward becoming a Democrat during the Goldsmith administration. I was involved with a zoning case, and the Goldsmith administration was “pro business”. I found out firsthand how pro business totally pops on the little guy and ignores the people that government should be trying to support the most.

  7. Sadly, there is so much truth in what you wrote. I was a Republican for many years – an Eisenhower Republican, and I can’t stomach even saying the word these days, although I realize there are still many good people who stand for thoughtful conservatism, but Trump probably doesn’t even know how to spell that word. He is frightening, and becomes more so. Biden is working for the American people – Trump is working for Trump and it’s getting worse. If you read Mary Trump’s book, you can understand a lot of the reasons why he’s like that, thanks to his father, BUT, there is also the choice that one can make when one becomes an adult, and he has made his loud and clear. Thank you for your clear writing, and thinking.

  8. In my book, “Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism”, I committed a chapter to the 2014 Texas Republican party platform. There were several planks that utterly destroyed public education – such as “avoid teaching critical thinking skills”. Now, we’re seeing the fruits of that idiocy.

    “Why think for yourself when it’s easier to just let ‘us’ tell you what to do.”

    Also, sadly, I predicted this demise of the GOP, though Trump wasn’t yet in the picture. It really wasn’t that hard to see even for a non-political science major.

    What all these problems we’ve been discussing on this blog means is that our electorate is wholly uninformed and basically too lazy to become informed. The cult leaders feast on and depend on this situation to further their cause and rake in the money. In re-reading the unauthorized story of the Bush family, the bottom line for these creatures is – wait for it – the bottom line. The hierarchy of the Bush family preached two words to their offspring: MONEY AND POWER.

    Now the cult of Trump is turning that natural, ancient human frailty into a sewer that will breed the diseases of our undoing as a democracy. We all know what to do, but how do we get enough people off of the mindless RFK, Jr. bandwagon to assure the utter defeat of not just Trump, but his Republican acolytes in Congress/state/city governments too?

  9. Whoever willfully and maliciously, or with reckless disregard for the safety of human life, imparts or conveys or causes to be imparted or conveyed false information, knowing the information to be false, concerning an attempt or alleged attempt being made or to be made, to do any act which would be a crime prohibited by this chapter or chapter 97 or chapter 111 of this title—shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
    (Added July 14, 1956, ch. 595, § 1, 70 Stat. 540; amended Pub. L. 87–338, Oct. 3, 1961, 75 Stat. 751; Pub. L. 89–64, July 7, 1965, 79 Stat. 210; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

  10. I could write the exact same piece against Joe Biden. He’s complicit in genocide and has brought us to the brink of WW3 in 3.5 years. His animosity toward China is the most idiotic policy yet. He needs a stage manager wherever he visits and has to move around. He can’t even get off the stage without assistance.

    Despite all the concerning aspects of Joe’s leadership, the most alarming is that Kamala Harris is one heartbeat away from becoming president. Her public gaffes and speeches have raised serious questions about her competence, making Joe and Don look like intellectuals in comparison.

    In 2016, Donny and Mike Pence immediately cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, offsetting that with a delayed increase in middle-class taxes beginning next year. This caused an immediate $3 trillion deficit. Instead of raising it back to 35%, Biden raised it to 22%, which is almost a negligible amount. And this is during a war! Who do these bozos work for?!? Btw, Donny has promised to lower it to 20% during a proxy war against Russia and a hybrid war with China.

    Mike Pence was just given $10 million to “educate the public and Washington” on the advantages of keeping corporate tax rates low. In other words, he will flood Fox News airways with propaganda ads.

    Intellectuals like Jeffrey Sachs are calling out Washington’s uniparty. The uniparty works with the NeoCons, which run behind the scenes in Washington. As Jeffrey also points out, Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland/Hillary Clinton are not the sharpest tools in the shed. He said the only two presidents with enough guts to take on the “deep state” were Eisenhower and JFK, Jr. The latter was assassinated for wanting to reform the CIA, which causes ALL our problems. Everything else is superficial noise to keep us divided, performed very well by the US media.

  11. Dan Mullendore; one of my many jobs under Goldsmith (I was never sure what my position was that covered so many areas) was secretary to the Manager of Lawrence Township Zoning Violations. I cross-filed all complaints by address and complainant and notified the Manager and reminded him frequently when he wasn’t working “in the field”. A number of people began calling from Geist area about a Turkish man who notified them he was going to build 4-5 $40,000 homes on the back of his property then bring family members from Turkey to live in them and work for him. Reminding the manager repeatedly did no good and the Supervisor knew nothing about Zoning Regulations, a few months passed. The Geist residents began calling early one morning; the man had already poured the footings for the homes and they were panicked. Manager was “in the field” and Supervisor could do nothing because she knew nothing about Zoning Regulations. After 3-4 calls from a number of residents I gave all of them the home phone number of their City Councillor who charged into the Dept. of Metropolitan Development; she quickly got things moving then talked to the residents in person to see for herself that the problem was resolved. I was not a favorite Hudnut leftover of the Goldsmith appointees but I was the one who knew how to do the work and did the work no one else wanted to do regarding the Metropolitan Development Commission, which took up most of my time.

    Your problem was part of an inside problem with Goldsmith’s highest out-of-state donor who was given contracts which were run through his “day job” as Vice President of a Bank in Columbus, Ohio, and that is where he lived. As were many of the contracts with the City at that time; he was given the run of the building and authority to give us orders to do his bidding the 4-5 days monthly he appeared in the building.

    Three doctors, two of them Otology and Neurotology Specialist, stated the stress of the job caused the sudden severe increase and disabling condition of my minor inner ear problems. Many others left under medical conditions and 3 months after I was forced to stop working my 37 year old Manager was hauled from the office by ambulance with a massive heart attack. This is why I have wondered what conditions were like within the Executive Office support staff once Trump walked into the White House.

  12. Todd, that tax raise was all Biden could get past a dysfunctional Republican Party. It’s congress job to set the tax rate. As for the policy on China, every President in my lifetime has struggled with them, first as a Communist threat and then an economic threat, and now again as a Communist threat. As for setting up WW3, I think Trump started the paving machine down that road with threats to leave NATO and backing out of the Iran nuclear treaty. I truly believe that the Ukraine blackmail incident and the Republican party response just set the stage to give Putin the confidence to invade.

  13. Yes, Todd, please arrange your glasses to take in more of the whole [picture!
    I expect that tfg’s garbage about leaving NATO was, intentionally, or not, and I do not rule out the former, an early signal to Putin to “…do whatever he wants.”
    And, yes, Project 25 is clearly the GOPIGGIES’ platform. It spells out their goals and the policies for achieving them.
    Hoping, here, that tfg goes off script and makes a total fool of himself next Friday!

  14. This remnant of a party, the GOP, in thrall to a single person, Trump, is poisoning more than politics. It is repulsive to me to see how few of the former GOP standard-bearers, those with ethics and vision as well as regard for the nation’s institutions, stand, mostly silent, on the sidelines—where there should be none—as the MAGA crowd swallows the lies, conspiracy theories, and hateful rhetoric spewed by “their leader.” What future does this crazed crowd envision? Maybe the debate, if Trump shows up, may spark some awareness in the latter and add some pressure to the former? I’m not holding my breath.

  15. Those expecting the debate hosted by CNN to reveal anything concrete about either candidate will be disappointed. CNN should have let RFK, Jr. debate with the two idiots, but I suspect Biden/Trump refused to allow it. CNN’s excuse has been debunked already. All three are frauds.

    As for China, all the accusations leveled against them are propaganda. The West has gotten into the bad habit of visiting China, and the first thing they do is hold a press conference to tell Xi how things will be, which is incredibly disrespectful. See Germany’s Habeck as the latest example. Then he wonders why his appointments get canceled. Not sure where these people come from, but the government shouldn’t let them leave their country.


  16. Mitch D. Appealing to Todd to expand his perspective is, I have found, a waste of time. He is fully committed to portraying Biden and Trump as equally corrupt and dangerous and has no.intention of being swayed from his position by inconvenient facts, evidence, or rational thinking. What he hopes to accomplish by this, I have not been able to discover. Perhaps he really does want the “all out nuclear war” he wrote in favor of back in March. This seems insane to me, but he has never really denied it, so…

  17. In this arena, to expand one’s perspective means to ignore reality and continue to believe in American Exceptionalism.

    Ignoring reality and to continue believing in a fairy tale is proof of one’s membership within a cult.


    Two of the most dangerous cults ever.

  18. It’s obvious what trump and his Maga movement are about; what has happened to republican party, falling like dominoes to the whims of their want to be dictator is exactly what they aim to do with US government.
    It’s amazing how closely trump resembles mob bosses in NYC in the 1980’s. It’s ironic that the federal prosecutor Guliani who took down the Mob with RICO laws was/is aiding and abetting trump with his network of conspiracies. It’s ok if POTUS does it?
    trump is an image guy; on recent news cast images of Putin and the north Korean dictator standing together looking out like they are saving a place for trump?
    Political campaigns have morphed beyond debating policies and have taken US into a cold civil war with the threat of heating up. We need to speak up and vote in masse like our lives and the lives of our kids depended on it!

  19. It’s Interesting. One can go into the archives of this blog and read entries critical of a Bernie Sanders presidency because of his age. Sanders never did display mental and/or physical problems.

    Yet, here we are where the host and commemtariat vociferously demand the public support a career politician that shows (almost daily) signs of degenerative cognitive skills.

    Biden’s foreign policy seems to be, I Fall Down Go Boom! Why Not THE World!

    Btw,young men ARE NOW automatically enrolled into the Selective Service System.

    Joe Biden will send Americans to Ukraine,Gaza and Lebanon.

    Bank on it.

  20. Hey Todd,
    There’s always some schleps at the bottom of the hill. And since crap rolls downhill, they’re the ones that get the brunt of everyone else’s bowel movements. And it doesn’t matter who they are at the top, they will have blood on their hands. History shows that very thing.

    And concerning 18 U.S. Code § 35 – Imparting or conveying false information, I would make everyone have to explain their particular pernicious truth and prove that that’s what it is, truth! Congress can persiferously lie with impunity, which is a dangerous permission. But I still would attempt to get them on a witness stand anyway. Even if they complain they’re immune, put it on the record! That in itself is not a good look!

  21. Goldsmith cemented my abhorrence of the Republican party. What a weasley little dick. First person I heard use the term “government schools.”

  22. I left the GOP after over 40 years of direct involvement from PC ,VWC ,Campaign Manager and elected office holder because they no longer stand for the American people, thoughtful government that addresses the needs of the ever changing times in our nation, world and whats best for all Americas futures.
    There is no long vision just a short angry view from a man who prefers vengeance to progress, dictatorship to our constitutional government constrained by laws not whims.
    If there is such a thing as an antichrist trump fits the discretion and who better for him to capture first then those among us who claim to be the most pious religious, after you gather them up the rest is easy ! They are the ones who have become the FOOLS & TOOLS of Americas destruction with the prosperity gospel and hatred for their neighbors and are trumps well armed army willing to March against who ever he commands his enemies.

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